FDA warns about cancers associated with breast implants

MD Anderson speaks with Health Reporter Haley Hernandez

Here's what we know

Getting breast implants can be cosmetic or a medical necessity for reconstruction. The decision to have either procedure done will hopefully only improve life, not hurt someone’s health.

Now, the FDA is warning about more cancers associated with implants.

The FDA previously warned women of breast implants’ association with anaplastic large cell lymphoma.

Newer reports suggest implants may also be linked to squamous cell carcinoma and various lymphomas.

MD Anderson’s Dr. Mark Clemens, Associate Professor in Plastic Surgery at MD Anderson Cancer Center, reviewed data from thousands of women to research this topic.

“We’ve known about this, it’s been published in the literature and we’ve even treated cases at MD Anderson but this is the first time the FDA has acknowledged those case reports and just wanted to make sure that it was brought to the public’s attention,” Dr. Clemens said.

He said implants are not a lifetime device, most of them need follow-up visits every couple of years.

However, Clemens warned, consider it a medically urgent situation if you have implants and notice any drastic changes in your breast health.

“If women notice any asymmetry between the breast or something unexplained, some kind of underlying skin change or fluid collection or just something that doesn’t seem right, they should definitely investigate that with their physician,” Dr. Clemens said.

While breast implants are a common type of implant, these rare diseases associated with them are not exclusive to breast implants, but can happen with any kind of implant.

With more of the public aware that cancer can happen after getting an implant, and hopefully coming forward with symptoms early, the more doctors hope to learn who is at risk.

“That’s our goal, with this new information and increased public awareness and the focus of research, we’re hoping that we can actually identify why some patients may develop this and better ways to test for it when we think that it may be occurring,” Clemens said.